Up until last week, every time Susan Ma appeared on my television I had to resist the urge to punch the screen (I look friendly, but I have a lot of rage. I also have spaghetti arms. Probably a good thing). Sometimes there’s only so much cheeriness, enthusiasm and general bounciness I can take.
However this all changed when I watched The Final Five and got a glimpse of the real Susan. Each of the remaining contestants were interviewed on magnolia coloured couches and wore t-shirts (as opposed to the usual suits and stilettos), so it must have been the real deal.
First off, Susan is ONLY 21. She was born to a single mother in Shanghai, where they didn’t have any electricity – times were hard. Then they moved to Australia when Susan was seven. Not speaking a word of English, she was bullied every single day. At 13 they moved to England. By then her English was better than her mum’s, so she enrolled herself in school and took it upon herself to research loans and seek financial advice.
Now’s a good time to stop and think about some of the ASBO teens out there.
Moving on. Susan started working on a market stall with her mother where she quickly developed smart business skills. This led her to set up her own business and achieve success allowing her to pay of her mother’s mortgage.
Susan is now in the final of The Apprentice and is ONLY 21. I’m astounded. She’s incredible. What once irritated me as grating self-confidence now completely inspires me! Amazing what a bit of context can do eh?
It can be tough in the business world as a female, especially if you’re in a particularly male-oriented sector (I work in high-tech). It can be even tougher to get people to take you seriously when you’re young and ambitious (I look about 12). So I guess that’s why Susan’s story resonates with me. Mostly it makes me think that there are no excuses. We all face obstacles and barriers to success (whatever your definition of success in life may be) – if you can’t break through them, it’s time to find another route. And no one else can get you there but you.